Ideally, we’d all have a great doctor who we trust implicitly to give us the best advice for our individual situations. However, this isn’t always the case. Doctors move, retire, or switch practices, and we have similar life changes that can force us to find a new practitioner. Others may not ever find their ideal relationship. On top of all this, there are a whole slew of illnesses and ailments that might require you to see a specialist. It’s difficult to trust someone you barely know with one of your most important assets: your health.
Most doctors are fair and competent, but even so they might not be the right fit for your individual needs. If you happen to feel like you need a second opinion, it’s likely you do, and it never hurts to get one. Many fear that they are being difficult or defiant asking for another doctor’s input, while others are afraid of hurting feelings by portraying mistrust, especially with a practitioner they’ve known for a while. However, these things shouldn’t stop you from seeking an outsider’s perspective if you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of your care.
That being said, there’s no reason to turn tail and run every time your doctor tells you something you didn’t want to here. In the end, they are all here to help us, but sometimes another approach would be more beneficial than the first. Here are six instances where you should most definitely seek out a second opinion.
Before A Non-Emergency Surgery
There are plenty of instances where a major surgery is necessary in order to save a life or alleviate extreme discomfort. However, there are thousands of unnecessary surgeries performed each day, and sometimes patients who could be treated more effectively with less invasive methods are put under the knife because it’s seen as an end-all-be-all cure.
Any surgery has major risks, though. Even with the latest advancements in computer-assisted surgery, it should only be considered if the benefits outweigh those risks. Outside of dire circumstances, surgery should be a last resort that is only considered after other options have been exhausted. If you go to see your doctor over some minor back pain and your doctor recommends surgery to treat or even diagnose the problem right off the bat, it’s a good idea to talk to someone else about your alternatives, as there are likely to be alternatives.
When You Are Diagnosed With A Chronic or Deadly Illness
We all hope to get through life without ever having to face one of the big, dire diagnoses that there may be no coming back from. Whether or not “your chances” are low, high, or nonexistent, this is definitely a time to seek a second opinion, as it could be the difference between life and death, or at the very least how much longer you do have and what quality of life that can be.
Seeking a second opinion not only carries the potential to make a huge difference, it might also be a very necessary step to ease your mind. It’s very difficult to accept such a harsh prognosis, or an extremely invasive treatment regimen that would mean rearranging your entire life. The second opinion may change the outlook for the better, but even if it doesn’t, at least you’ll be comfortable knowing that you explored all of the options that are out there.
When You Don’t Trust Your Doctor
Sometimes, you just know that something is off. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, or maybe your practitioner said something that made you think twice about how much faith you want to put in them. Either way, if you feel like you have reason to not trust your doctor, even if it’s because your needs are outside of their realm of expertise, there is no shame in seeking a second opinion.
Most of the time, a mistrust could be borne of a simple miscommunication, or the fact that a doctor’s philosophies don’t line up with your own. But these days, you never really know what’s around the corner. With “crisis prevention centers” giving out false medical information to pregnant women in vulnerable situations, and the fact that a teenager set up a fake medical practice and successfully posed as a real doctor and gave out real medical advice without a license, you can never be too safe. If you don’t trust the person treating you or the place you are receiving your treatment, or if you feel like something is off, don’t hesitate to ask for another opinion. You might be surprised what you find out.
When You Are Lacking A Diagnosis
Sometimes, you just know something is wrong with you, but your doctor can’t seem to figure it out. After running a number of tests and trying a menagerie of different treatments for your side effects, you are still left without a name to put to your ailment. Your doctor may grow frustrated and secede to the belief that it is all in your head, which only happens on very rare occasions.
What is more likely is that your doctor has exhausted all of the avenues at their disposable, and it’s time to see if someone else can’t look at things from a different perspective. Just because one doctor can’t land on a solid diagnosis does not mean that one doesn’t exist. You deserve to know what’s wrong with you, not only so it can be treated properly, but so you can understand yourself and your health better. If you are faced with this situation, you deserve a second opinion.
When You Aren’t Comfortable With Your Diagnosis
This can be a very gray area, because most of us aren’t comfortable with being diagnosed with anything at all. If we could all live our entire lives without ever getting sick or injured, wouldn’t that just be so great? But that’s just not how life works. Doctors are notorious for telling people that aren’t eating healthy enough and that it’s important to get their vitamins, and most get a bit upset for a minute before they realize the doc is probably right. There will also be times that your doctor tells you something you really don’t want to hear, and most of the time, they’ll be right.
But that doesn’t mean they are right all of the time. In fact, it’s estimated that most Americans will be misdiagnosed at least once in their lives. There are instances where severe illnesses can portray something more docile, and doctors often start with the best case scenario when diagnosing what doesn’t appear to be an emergency situation. Mental illnesses have a higher rate of misdiagnosis than other types of illnesses, and there are a number of factors that contribute to this. It can be very difficult for a practitioner to diagnose a mental illness in a few visits, let alone one, so if you feel like yours hasn’t been given enough time or consideration, it is acceptable to reach out for another perspective.
When You Aren’t Comfortable With Your Treatment Options
This is another scenario where it is within your best interest to seek a second opinion. Maybe your doctor is telling you that surgery is the best way to help you, or perhaps they say a medication with harsh side effects is the only one that will work. Maybe they just recommend a procedure or method that you aren’t comfortable with, and that’s okay.
Sometimes your diagnosis may be spot-on, but you feel like there has to be a better treatment option out there. You may be right, but you’ll never know unless you seek out a second opinion.
In the end, it’s all about your health and what’s best for your well-being. A second opinion from another doctor may or may not yield different results than the first. If it does, you were right all along and you have more options. If it doesn’t, at least you’ll be able to feel more comfortable knowing that you’re on the right path to recovery, even if it’s not what you had hoped for.